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  1. #1
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    Grants Pass/Medford area questions

    The wife and I have been doing the job hunt thing for awhile. A job just came up in the Grants Pass area and I've been gathering intel on the area. I see there are some trails at the county park on the south side of town, so that's good. the trail reviews on this site turn up some options that look like they'd be farther outside of town on BLM/NF land to the west? and some more stuff to the SE towards Ashland. looks pretty good from a biking standpoint.

    the jobs market doesn't look quite as good for me as some of the larger cities we've looked at, but it looks like I could still find something to do.

    I am more curious about the town in general. you can only get so much of a picture from wikipedia and whatnot. It looks like Grants Pass has a fairly high poverty rate (1/3 under poverty line from what I have read) and that concerns me somewhat. The city proper looks to be about comparable in size to where I live now (also with a comparable poverty rate, fwiw), but the fact that's it's much closer to Medford than I am to a city of comparable size seems to me a positive. I'm getting the impression that Ashland is a much more desirable place to live - but there's no way we'll be doing 1hr commutes. So overall, even though the poverty rate is similar to where I live now, it seems that there's still more available - maybe because of the tourism traffic that rafting brings to the area?

    I have looked at the previous posts here to get an impression of the biking community, and also looked up the local club. It seems heavily outweighed by the traffic from the Bend and Portland areas. The local club seems to have stuff going on, but there's not a lot of content on their website.

    Anyway, I'm curious what folks' impressions of the area are. Folks who live there, folks who have been through there, etc.

  2. #2
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    Grants Pass is a small community. The downturn in the economy has hit S. Oregon pretty hard with high foreclosre and unemployment rates. It is a little backwards and definitely lacks culture and things to do that you will find in larger cities.

    The city itself and surrounding area is beautiful. It's a nice town so dont let the poverty level make it seem like its a ghetto. If you can find a good steady job that pays well you will do fine here. If quality of life and outdoor recreation is important to you. Then you will be very happy in S. Oregon.

    Medford is only 25 miles away and many people commute from grants pass for work. Ashland is 11 miles further south of medford. Medford being larger does have more to offer as far as jobs, shopping, restaurants, night life and culture. Ashland by far is the entertainment and culture capital of S. Oregon. Being a college town it is hip and very progressive.

    As far as trails. We have arguably some of the best trails in Oregon. We are blessed with hundreds of miles of trail. Ashland being the epicenter because of Mt Ashland and the easy access to 5500' of elevation and 30+ mile of trail that end in town. The trail network is currently in the process of being expanded. Its also famous for the Mt. Ashland Challenge Super D and now enduro.

    There are other trails and trail systems all over our area. Grants pass specifically has the Cathedral Hills trail system. It's a small XC oriented trail system that is really fun. They actually just added some more trail this last weekend. There is also a small freeride park within city limits. Just N. of Grants Pass you have more sweet trail riding in an area called Briggs Valley. Another hour north of Grants Pass you have the famous North Umpqua Trail. 2.5 hrs north you have Oakridge. Keep going north and you will find Black Rock, Post Canyon, Bend, etc.

    Oregon is blowing up as far as the MTB scene and and the ever expanding riding opportunity. Not sure which club you looked up but RVMBA is a fairly new association that was recently formed from a previous now defunct club. RVMBA. You can also find it on FB at Rogue Valley Mountain Bike Association.

    Hope this helps. Feel free to ask more questions.

  3. #3
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    sofarider pretty much nailed it. I live in Ashland so don't have as much knowledge about the GP area.

    It is in a beautiful part of the state. If you are into water sports, rivers specifically, it is excellent. If you have a job to support a move there you are set. If not you will have to be creative to carve out a living.

    You won't find it difficult to find riding if you drive a short distance. Good luck with the decision!
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  4. #4
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    My wife found a job opening in grants pass so I'm trying to feel the area out. I am finishing a master's in environmental science and wildlife biology right now and I can take my degree a couple directions. My wife has probably double my earnings potential so we have to find her a job first. She's a veterinarian and her industry has been hit similarly hard of late (somewhat of a lag compared to other industries). Opportunities for her are pretty sparse right now so we hafta jump when she finds one.

    I have enough skills that I can afford to be a little creative.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by sofarider1 View Post
    Grants Pass is a small community. The downturn in the economy has hit S. Oregon pretty hard with high foreclosre and unemployment rates. It is a little backwards and definitely lacks culture and things to do that you will find in larger cities.

    The city itself and surrounding area is beautiful. It's a nice town so dont let the poverty level make it seem like its a ghetto. If you can find a good steady job that pays well you will do fine here. If quality of life and outdoor recreation is important to you. Then you will be very happy in S. Oregon.

    Medford is only 25 miles away and many people commute from grants pass for work. Ashland is 11 miles further south of medford. Medford being larger does have more to offer as far as jobs, shopping, restaurants, night life and culture. Ashland by far is the entertainment and culture capital of S. Oregon. Being a college town it is hip and very progressive.

    As far as trails. We have arguably some of the best trails in Oregon. We are blessed with hundreds of miles of trail. Ashland being the epicenter because of Mt Ashland and the easy access to 5500' of elevation and 30+ mile of trail that end in town. The trail network is currently in the process of being expanded. Its also famous for the Mt. Ashland Challenge Super D and now enduro.

    There are other trails and trail systems all over our area. Grants pass specifically has the Cathedral Hills trail system. It's a small XC oriented trail system that is really fun. They actually just added some more trail this last weekend. There is also a small freeride park within city limits. Just N. of Grants Pass you have more sweet trail riding in an area called Briggs Valley. Another hour north of Grants Pass you have the famous North Umpqua Trail. 2.5 hrs north you have Oakridge. Keep going north and you will find Black Rock, Post Canyon, Bend, etc.

    Oregon is blowing up as far as the MTB scene and and the ever expanding riding opportunity. Not sure which club you looked up but RVMBA is a fairly new association that was recently formed from a previous now defunct club. RVMBA. You can also find it on FB at Rogue Valley Mountain Bike Association.

    Hope this helps. Feel free to ask more questions.
    +2 ... I grew up in GP... moved away in 92'. Back then the area seemed to have a higher retirement population and the downtown culture became very stagnant with lots of small town politics and limited opportunity depending on your field. There has been a lot of change between then and now, but it still feels like GP whenever we go back for a visit.

    Entering the area established with employment (plus your education) puts you in a positive position. Someone moving in with limited marketability will probably find it to be a struggle.

    I still have family in the area and I keep hearing that the rural areas surrounding GP have experienced some drug/crime related issues, which is partially a result of a higher level of lower income households, the current and recent past economy, and to a degree the community not willing to support local services such as the Sheriff's Dept.

    In short... GP can be a great place to live, just continue to research and maybe even visit the area. Personally I'd find it hard to move back after living in Boise for the last 20yrs.

  6. #6
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    it's not the best city that my wife and I have looked at/sent applications for jobs. but with the pickings as slim as they are for her, we can't afford to be too picky. we're already excluding the south (we live in the south now - hate the summers and the lack of true winters) and anywhere within about 6hrs drive of her family.

    we definitely plan on visiting if there's discussion of an offer. we actually had to turn down an offer in MT. the job for her was okay on pay, but would have provided her a lot of control over how the place operates, without getting into the ownership thing (she does not want to own or get into the business side), but the city was too small, and too far away from the parts of MT where I'd have had a better chance finding jobs.

    with GP being as close as it is to Medford, it might be worth considering commuting to GP from somewhere in the Medford area if that needed to happen. we plan to rent for awhile so we can scope out the area (wherever we wind up) for a year or so to decide where to put down roots. one thing that kills me is that I found a place hiring in Bend that would be well-suited to my skills, but there's nothing available for my wife there.

    She's sent applications to a few places in WA and they've either been flaky or have been dragging their feet - or both in one case.

    but we understand how rural areas can get. we currently live in a city that's a hair smaller than GP, and the nearest city is about the same distance as Medford is from GP, but it's still only comparable in size to our own city. There were two high-profile drug busts this past week - one of them involved one of my wife's clients cooking meth. we're also on a popular drug/people trafficking route from Mexico up into the northeast. we've still found a nice community of folks we enjoy. and looking at the sorts of businesses in GP on Yelp, it appears that the sort of community we'd connect with is at least a little bigger than here.

    she also sent an application to a place in Asheville, NC. Now that's a town that I know a little bit. I have family who lived there, and have taken a couple biking vacations to the area. that would be an area I know I'd like a lot. it's south, but being right next to the mountains would mitigate some of that summer heat and I know they get real winters up that way.

  7. #7
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    I moved here from Jacksonville, FL, aka South Georgia. There is no comparison between the two areas in terms of quality of life. Asheville was nice with some good riding but I would choose GP over it in a heart beat.

    I know a couple of vets in our area. There is a lot of competition in the industry. One vet, All Creatures in Eagle Point, is cleaning everyones clock in the industry here. Their pricing is on a service based model vs an emotional fee model. What does that mean? Our dog needed ACL surgery. Our regular vet quoted us $2,500. All Creatures did the entire thing with meds for $225. They have a lot of clients that travel from all over the region, including GP, for their services. They have really changed the way the vet business is run locally. Your wife may want to ask how they view them as a competitor and if they feel AC costs them some high value, $$, services. Two of the vets in Medford I knew, and rode with, moved out of the area because the competition was too high.

    Hope that helps.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fly Rod View Post
    I moved here from Jacksonville, FL, aka South Georgia. There is no comparison between the two areas in terms of quality of life. Asheville was nice with some good riding but I would choose GP over it in a heart beat.

    I know a couple of vets in our area. There is a lot of competition in the industry. One vet, All Creatures in Eagle Point, is cleaning everyones clock in the industry here. Their pricing is on a service based model vs an emotional fee model. What does that mean? Our dog needed ACL surgery. Our regular vet quoted us $2,500. All Creatures did the entire thing with meds for $225. They have a lot of clients that travel from all over the region, including GP, for their services. They have really changed the way the vet business is run locally. Your wife may want to ask how they view them as a competitor and if they feel AC costs them some high value, $$, services. Two of the vets in Medford I knew, and rode with, moved out of the area because the competition was too high.

    Hope that helps.
    That is not a "service based model" vs an "emotional based model". They are both service based.

    I looked up that clinic and it's a typical low cost high volume clinic. Be assured, the service is worth exactly what you pay. You simply don't know the differences between what happens in a $225 acl surgery as compared to a $2500 acl surgery. They are not the same thing. One thing a lot of vets are not good at is explaining why some things are better for the pet than the low cost alternatives.

    Would you trust a bike mechanic who promised a $1.50 overhaul instead of a $150 overhaul? The cheap guy will not be covering the same stuff and giving you the same quality lubes and parts (if at all). His labor will be rushed, too

    Low cost clinics are good for poor people who cannot afford the best care, but it is not the same care

  9. #9
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    My wife and I moved back to GP, where I grew up, recently. I love the riding around here. Like sofarider said, the local XC system is great and improving plus the FR park in town are both awesome. Ashland is a popular and short drive for AWESOME shuttle rides. With much more to the North, East, West and South.

    As far as work goes, as long as you are a competent person with a strong work ethic you are above a good portion of the young adult competition.
    Within a week I my wife and I had jobs (Mine pays $11.50/hour... plus I get discounted cases of beer =] and opportunity for fast growth). The degree should help as well.

    Personally I would rather live in GP than Medford instead of commuting from Medford. I think GP has more to offer in terms of staying active. The rivers, hiking, and camping are great. The immediate surrounding area is prettier as well IMO. If you do more than ride...
    Right now we have had snow showers but we don't get harsh winters, and it rains often (it's Oregon). Some don't like the morning fog durring the cooler months but we have nice summers (with less bugs than you're used to I'm sure).
    Ride your bike and be happy.

  10. #10
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    Having lived all about the West, I think GP, Medford, Ashland area is a fine place. The commute between towns is very easy. Ashland has culture, Medford has stores, GP has river. Bike riding/outdoor recreation throughout. Summers are hot for 2 months, winters are wet/rainy for four months, and there is lots of good weather in between. The job climate is tricky everywhere, but the Western dream towns have almost always been difficult to find work in. Even at its booming best, Bend was not worker friendly outside construction. Same goes for some of the finer Montana towns. To make things worse, during the boom times, rich folk bought up everything and sent the cost of living through the roof. Forget about owning a home at a middle class income, unless of course you got one of the goofy loans that created the mess. Speculators and "dream-lifestylers" would move in and set up shop making prices even worse. Like another poster says, it's work/job first or carve out an existence. I think this has held true for the "average joe" in mountain towns all the ways back to the 90's. In many ways, the terrible economy is the best thing that's happened to dream towns in 25 years...taking people who have lost their jobs/homes out of the equation of course. GP may not be perfect, but it is certainly in the next tier below. And finally, imo a little grit and rough-around-the-edges influence is good for a town.

  11. #11
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    sounds good, for the most part. we put our house on the market a week ago...agent expects it to take 60-90 days to sell, which should mostly cover us until I can finish my degree. it actually looks like we might make a little bit on the place. we'll see how the offers pan out, but our agent thinks we've made upgrades in important places.

    wife's still considering the job in GP, though had some brief interest from a place outside Portland. he needed someone ASAP, though, and found a qualified applicant already living in the area. if the place in GP is still looking, we'll probably be visiting in a few weeks.

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